CMS: Community health centers lag behind in MU attestation

Community health centers (CHCs) are making progress in their use of electronic health records, but are still struggling with the Meaningful Use requirements, according to a CMS survey, published in the agency's Medicare and Medicaid Research Review.

The survey on CHCs and patient centered medical homes found that nearly 70 percent of CHCs had full or partial EHR adoption, but even after three years of support from the regional extension centers only nine percent of them had successfully attested to the Meaningful Use requirements.  

For instance, CHCs did well in meeting some core measures, such as the ability to record patient demographics (98 percent), maintain active medication lists (97 percent) and record and chart changes in vital signs (96 percent). However, they didn't fare as well with other measures, such as providing patients with timely electronic access to their health information or submitting information to public health agencies, causing the surveyors to note that "even the most experienced CHCs may struggle to meet the final standards."

"CHCs may require not only more assistance in fully understanding and implementing the technical and technological requirements for demonstrating meaningful use, but also more time to adapt their training and practices accordingly," the researchers concluded.

The survey mirrors other recent reports that rural and critical access hospitals--which, like CHCs, treat higher proportions of low-income, uninsured patients with higher risks of health problems--lag behind hospitals with more resources when it comes to health IT adoption and successful Meaningful Use attestation. There is concern that this disparity will become even greater as the industry moves to Stage 2 of the EHR incentive program.

To learn more:
- read the CMS survey